Pass notes: Tanztheater

This term at Morley we are launching a brand new pilot course to the Dance department, Tanztheater. But what is Tanztheater and where does it come from? Tutor Adrian Look gives us the pass notes…

What is it?

Tanztheater ( dance theatre) is a blend of dance and theatre elements. Dance and movement is used to express a state of mind or an emotional condition. It uses props and simple scenery and speech when needed. Tanztheater is mostly about human relations and is an art form very close to everyday life. Unlike classical ballet with its big stories of princes and magic, Tanztheater is about the ordinary man. Much like pieces from Bertholt Brecht the elements of being honest and believable play a big part in this art form.

Where is it from?

Tanztheater was invented in Germany in the 1920s from Kurt Jooss and Rudolf Laban. Kurt Jooss, and later Hans Züllig, founded /led the Folkwang University whose alumni include Pina Bausch, Susanne Linke and Reinhild Hoffmann.

What is the history of the Tanztheater?

The German Tanztheater (“dance theatre”) grew out of German ‘expressionist dance’ in Weimar, Germany and 1920s Vienna. Tanztheater broke with the traditions of classical ballet. Unlike the clear structure of classical ballet, German Tanztheater was a particular style of dance emerging from within the new forms of ‘expressionist dance’ in the 1920’s. Choreographies were about freedom and expression. Emotions were considered more important than the technique.

What makes it unique?

What makes Tanztheater special is the reference to ‘ordinary life’ and the meaningful expression. The key components of Tanztheater are credibility, depth, and beauty. In the philosophy of Kurt Jooss and Pina Bausch, every movement and action on stage needs a reason.
The Jooss-Leder technique is a precise and beautiful mixture of classical ballet elements and free movement sequences which are unique to every teacher/choreographer. 

Who can do it?

Everybody can do it. Tanztheater strives to tell stories through movement. Even if one is not experienced in other dance forms one can still find movements that express and emotional state. Of course a background in dance or movement will help to create more artistic and innovative dance sequences, but Tanztheater starts with the person and then creates the dancer. As Pina Bausch put it: I’m not interested in how people move, but what moves them.

This term at Morley we are launching a brand new pilot course to the Dance department, Tanztheater. But what is Tanztheater and where does it come from? Tutor Adrian Look gives us the pass notes…


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